I’m one of these strange people who likes airports and the process of traveling as much as the destinations, so being grounded during the pandemic has taken a small toll on my soul. I get excited about wandering a terminal, heading to a lounge, and the opportunity to just look out the window (window seats always) and daydreaming without any guilt.
Feeling guilty for flying First Class is real though. At least it was for me and I’m here to tell you to let it go and embrace the free hand creams, hot towels, and cocktails because life is too short to have traveler imposter syndrome. Don’t worry about the envious looks from sneering passengers on their way to not-so-awesome class in the rear. Embrace your inner bourge because you know they’d change places with you if fortune favored their asses over your now quite comfortable derrièr.
I wish I had known this almost 10 years ago on my first ever flight in First Class on Virgin Atlantic during a business trip to Europe. I haven’t had this level of experience again and I wish I’d soaked in every ounce of extravagance, like sauntering my way to the the bar in my comfy designer slippers from the amenity kit. (Yes, there was a bar on the plane.)
So sit back, relax, and let daddy tell you how he managed to fly one of the great First Class products in the world and completely screw it up so you don’t have to.
First, embrace that you’re in First Class; especially if someone else is paying for it.
I was sure I was going to get in trouble or my colleagues were going to shame the naughty American for flying in only the most luxurious of circumstances. Yeah, nobody cares. They’re all flying it too, dumb ass. (If it’s in policy, it’s in policy, right?) Breathe it in and imagine you’re walking into a casino in a James Bond movie because you’re hot, baby, and you’re about to cash in all of your chips and fly away with the villain’s unhappy girlfriend.
When you see this glorious individual, lay-flat seat, with your own private entertainment system and set of complimentary amenities, sit in it with the confidence Beyonce sits in anything, really. Be Beyonce.
Revel in the fact you can stretch out your legs and not look at another person if you don’t want to. Not that you can see anyone.
Second, when the nice flight attendant asks if you’d like some champagne, you say yes.
I don’t even like champagne. It doesn’t matter. Drink the champagne and ask them what year they like best from the maker. Sometimes you might want to switch if the vintage available was particularly unremarkable due to a cold spell. They probably won’t but ask anyway. They always have a favorite.
Look over the menu they provided you with too. Yes, a full menu with entrees, cheese courses, a wine and spirit list, and even the ability to choose what you want for breakfast before you land.
Satisfy your curiosity and pick as much as you can responsibly handle. There’s no extra cost. Just mix in some water because I don’t want to hear any blood clot stories.
I don’t even remember what I ate but, looking at the menu now, I probably had the pan seared sirloin with potato confit, glazed vegetables, and red wine sauce. It might have been near restaurant quality. It’s your first First Class experience, honey bear, so stick your hand in the jar and smother your appetite with the finest airline cuisine. Save all of your food-snob opinions about waiting to eat until you land for another time. Caress the real silverware and know that you are a prince and no one can hear you pass gas at 35,000 feet when you’re living so fabulously.
Change into the pajamas, you jerk.
They give you pajamas. Yeah, I know, this freaked me out too.
Just go to the First Class lavatory and change there like a civilized person. I didn’t do this. I slept in my clothes. Yeah, I want to reach through time and beat the steaming shit-swirl of stupidity out of myself too.
You want to change into pajamas on a long flight. This way you can save your clothes and keep them as fresh as your mind when you arrive after several hours of sleep in your lay-flat bed. Which brings me to…
When the nice flight attendant asks to make your bed, you say yes!
The flight attendant asked to make my bed and I refused! How could I let someone else make it for me? I’m a self-reliant humble person and I don’t need to be coddled.
Shut up, past me, you puckered-assed nincompoop. I slept with barely a blanket and a pillow when there was a full complement of sheets that could have covered the seat and snuggled my bosom in unparalleled jet setting comfort for the time.
Also, I think the flight attendants can get in trouble if they don’t make it for you so let them do their job.
Finally, when given access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge in Heathrow, enjoy it, you monster.
I walked in to this on the return trip home.
I wish I took better pictures because it doesn’t capture the experience. It’s one of the great lounges in the world. There’s a game room, a spa, you can take a shower, have fine cocktails, eat from a full a la carte menu, and luxuriate around a viewing deck to be lazy or mysterious or whatever.
All I did was sit in front of the video wall and send a grateful email to a colleague who had pushed me to go for this job.
That’s nice and all but I wish I’d taken a shower, had a meal, and played a few rounds of Pac-Man or Afterburner before jumping on the return flight.
The return was pure sadness, by the way. My seat was right in front of the bar and could you believe I didn’t stand up to visit it? I could see the bartender making the drinks for all of the people who knew how to live far better than me, clearly, and I was still uninspired to rise and debauch. I just sat in my seat watching movies like some kind of ascetic monk.
I disapprove of all of my behavior. If I was my own friend, I’d punch myself in the face, hold my head underwater to the point of drowning, then yank myself back up and say, “come back when you want to enjoy yourself as much as you just wanted to breathe, you joyless maladroit infant.”
Life can turn on you in an instant so if you’re ever as fortunate as I was, especially now as we all (hopefully) get vaccinated and return to posting gratuitous travel flexes on the Insta, don’t be an austere hero full of traveler’s imposter syndrome.
Enjoy the experience and put on the freakin’ pajamas already, jackass.